LIFE TRANSFORMATION DRUG PUNK My name is Natalina Batista, I’m 40 years old and before I came to the UCKG Help Centre I used to be a drug addict. I started smoking cigarettes when I was 12 years old and I also began drinking alcohol and tried marijuana for the first time. I was young and very curious but I didn’t realize that curiosity would be the door to my addiction. The drugs started to be part of my daily life. My behaviour at home began to change. I would go out with my friends drinking, smoking, and listening to punk music in clubs. The influence got deeper and I changed the way I dress. I would dress like a punk. When my friends and I would walk on the streets, all eyes were on us because we looked scary. We carried bottles of wine, beer, marijuana wherever we went. My friends and punk music were the bridge to try another drug, heroine. I was 14 years old during that time. I was on vacation so I went camping with my friends and we used heroine everyday. When I went back to school, it was never the same because I would crave for the drug. Two of my friends would inject heroine and a thought came to my mind saying, “why not?” So I did. My addiction got even worse. I found a way to drug myself everyday. I would buy my own needle and couldn’t care less what they’d think about me. I would sell things from home just to sustain my addiction. My parents never knew about all of this but it was impossible to hide it from them because my behaviour said it all. So I decided to leave home and live with my STOP SUFFERING|14 friends. I left school and started to work but my money was wasted on drugs. It became my routine. My dreams were shattered and I could care less about my future. I was not happy at all. During these times, my mom started to go to the Help Centre in Portugal and she would always bring my picture with her. After a couple of months I decided to give her a call and asked her to accept me home. I wanted to finish high school and go to university. So I went back and finished school and I was working during the night. However, the temptation was strong. So my parents decided to send me to France, far away from my friends. But the problem wasn’t them or the place, it was me. I had sleepless nights during my first week in France because of the absence of heroine. It was scary, I was alone. I was 18 and I thought to myself, “I should have fun.” That “fun” led me to the wrong crowd again.